Now that we have our first thirty numbers of the best Bengals players in the books, we can move on with numbers 31-40.
This might be the best poll we'll have for our entire jersey number series. The battle of No. 32. The battle of the two most successful running backs in Bengals history. Let's get right to it.
Rudi Johnson, a Bengals running back from 2001-2007, was a touchdown machine holding many of the top rushing marks in franchise history. His 1,454 yards rushing in 2004, surpassed by four yards in 2005, remains the top rushing mark in a season. That's better than every running back having ever worn a Bengals uniform. Johnson posted 5,742 yards rushing in his career, third all-time and Corey Dillon is the only running back to post more yards rushing in a single game and 100-yard rushing games than Rudi Johnson. Also a workhorse, Johnson posted 1,441 career rush attempts (second to Corey Dillon) and three of the top four rush attempt marks in franchise history; his 43 attempts against the Houston Texans in 2003 is a team high during a single-game. Rudi Johnson posted 19 100-yard rushing games, which is, again, second to Corey Dillon.
Yet all that pales in comparison when talking about Johnson's touchdown marks. From 2004 through 2006, Johnson scored 36 rushing touchdowns, posting 12 scores in each season during that three-season stretch. Johnson eventually finished his Bengals career with 48 total rushing touchdowns, falling 16 short of Pete Johnson's franchise mark.
Based on Rudi's accolades alone, he should be an automatic selection for No. 32. But we have to give Cedric Benson some love. While Benson hasn't come close to most of Rudi's numbers -- especially touchdowns -- he played a significant role with the Bengals during the team's 2009 playoff run, averaging 96.2 yards rushing per game. If he would have played a full 16 game schedule, based on his average, Benson would have posted a franchise record 1,539 yards rushing. But because of an injury, he was only limited to 13 games that season, which was capped with a tremendous 169-yard effort against the New York Jets during the playoffs, which set a franchise record for most rushing yards during a post-season game.
With only three seasons in the books, Benson has yet to break the top-five in yards rushing, rush attempts or touchdowns. But because it's only three seasons, it would be difficult for him to break into many of the team's franchise marks on a team that has tradition rich in running backs. So let's do a breakdown by averaging out Rudi Johnson's best three seasons compared to Cedric Benson's only three seasons.
The following is a breakdown of both running backs per game (Benson played 41 games during his three seasons, Johnson played 48 from 2004-2006).
You might ask, why are we picking Rudi's best three seasons. The reason is this. We're picking the best player to wear No. 32 in team history. Benson has been effective in his short Bengals career. But Rudi was a Pro Bowl running back that holds many of the team's records and was a significant contributor the team's explosive offense during the mid-2000s. Use logic when selecting, not a premeditated dislike for Johnson, which for whatever, exists in Bengals fans.